Tips to Teach Kids to Share

19 Oct

I love the helpful articles from Parents.Com.  Reading articles from this site helps confirm that some of the things my wife and I are doing are “right” and it gives us new ideas/tactics to address a myriad of parenting issues.  It’s a great resource.

So, about SHARING!  Sharing, it’s something we all needed to learn to do!  With two daughter’s in the house, we have plenty of stuffed animals, baby dolls, play kitchen stuff, etc…BUT it doesn’t stop my 5 year-old and 22 month-old from wanting the same toy!  The Parents.Com article below provides some super tips and I can honestly say a lot of them have worked for us!  Some of our most helpful:

– When hosting a playdate, it is perfectly fine for your child to identify a few “special” toys or books that she/he doesn’t want to share.  Put them away in a closet and avoid the arguments, agony, tears, etc.  In fact, I think it’s good for parents to make some of these choices as well.  For example, in our house we have a ride-on horse which is always a toddler favorite…but causes a lot of pushing, impatience and tears.  So we put it away for play dates.  

This must be put away at toddler playdates, unless it’s just 1 friend visiting!

– Likewise, our kindergartener’s arts & crafts table is heaven for toddlers and hell for parents if the toddlers get into it, so it’s blocked off by a play gate from our 22 month-old (crisis avoided). 

– Using a timer to administer taking turns works like a charm!

– Having multiples of similar toys helps with group play dates – a tote full or different sizes and colors of balls works well with toddlers and parents can teach them to start playing together, rolling, chasing, catching balls.

– Lead by Example.  Kids are sponges and even when we don’t think they are observing us, they seem to catch us at our worst and our best.  So set an example, explain what’s happening and how it makes you feel.  Toddlers especially mimic others behaviors!

– Role play!  We use this technique in our home for all types of situations – practicing with our 5 year-old how to interrupt appropriately, how to react to a bully, how to treat other people, etc.  So practicing sharing by role-playing and talking about the steps/process and feelings helps things sink in!

Do you have some tips to teach kids to share?  Please “share” them here in the comments of this blog post!  🙂

Creative Ways to Teach Sharing

mother playing with daughter
Start Off Small

A child does not truly understand the concept of sharing until about age 5, says Sara Lise Raff, an educational consultant and mom of three. “However, a child can be taught to understand some basic rules. such as waiting your turn (‘she goes, then you go’), if you walk away from a toy it is open for anyone else to play with, and if you bring your toy to a playdate, then everyone there gets to play with it.”

Time It!

The next time your child doesn’t want to part with something, set a timer, suggests Lynne Milliner, a pediatrician with Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. “Let your child know that he’ll get to play for 10 minutes and then, when the timer goes off, it’s his sister’s turn to play for 10 minutes. This will show your child how to take turns and also let him know that giving up his toy isn’t permanent.”

cleaning up
Put Away Special Items

You probably have a few prized possessions that you wouldn’t feel comfortable loaning to a friend, so why should your child be expected to part with his favorite items? “If there is a particular toy or book that he really loves, don’t force him to share it with others,” says Michelle LaRowe, a former nanny and author of A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists. “But also make sure he understands that those items can’t come out during a playdate. They’ll stay in the closet until his guests leave.”

mothers playing with kids on couch
Lead by Example

Kids pay close attention to what their parents do, so let your child see you in the act of sharing, says Laura Olson, a former teacher and the vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, a national child care and education franchise. “If you’re eating a sandwich, ask him if he’d like a piece of it. You and your spouse should also make a point to show your child how you share with one another, whether it’s taking turns choosing what movie to watch or sharing space in the bathroom.”

children playing with play grocery cart
Pick a Theme

A toddler sees another child playing with a toy and suddenly he has to have it! While the behavior is perfectly normal, it can be frustrating — for you. To bypass toy envy, Michelle LaRowe, a former nanny and author of A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists, suggests choosing a theme for playdates (beach, farm, cooking, etc.) so that all of the kiddies are playing with the same types of toys. “I will also color-coordinate some of the toys so there isn’t a fight over the red or blue one — everyone has the same type or color to play with!” she says.

bin of toys
Give to Charity

The holidays are the perfect time to talk to your children about sharing with others less fortunate. Participate in a program such as a children’s shelter toy collection or a coat drive where your child can donate some of her own toys or clothes that are no longer in use. Or you can bring your child to the store and have her pick out a few new toys that will be donated to charity.

mother talking to toddler

If your child is a master at saying no when asked to share, think about a little role reversal. Get down on the floor for some playtime and, when your little one asks for something — the yellow block or a turn at banging the keys on his toy piano — simply say no. When he gets upset, talk to him about how he feels right now and how he wouldn’t want to make his friends feel the same way. You can remind him of this moment the next time you’re at a playdate and he hesitates to share.

toddlers playing with a ring game
Praise the Positive!

We spend so much time reminding them to behave, it’s easy to forget to offer applause when your child does exactly what you want him to do. Still, don’t forget to praise him when he does share with someone — whether you had to remind him to do it or not. “Let him know how happy you are to see him being so nice to his friend or sibling, and also point out that he’s made that other child very happy, too,” says Laura Olson, a former teacher and the vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, a national child care and education franchise.

toddler playing
Remember, Practice Makes Perfect

Just being around other little ones and interacting during play can be a lesson in sharing, so be sure that your child is used to being around other children his age as early on as possible, says Renee Mosiman, a family therapist and co-author of The Smarter Preschooler: Unlocking Your Child’s Intellectual Potential. “Having a regular set of playmates over the years will encourage trust among friends. As your child develops that sense of trust, he will be more likely to share with others.”


http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

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